• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura stressed Saturday Japan’s ability and qualifications to serve as a permanent member of an expanded U.N. Security Council in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

Speaking at a general debate session, Machimura also urged North Korea to agree to dismantle all of its nuclear weapons and programs in the current six-party talks in Beijing.

He emphasized the need for the U.N. to become more “effective and efficient” and said reforming the Security Council “remains key to achieving the overall renewal” of the 60-year-old world body.

“At no other time in its history has an effective, efficient and credible United Nations been more needed than today,” he said. “The credibility of the U.N. is at stake.”

Reiterating the call made by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in a speech at a U.N. anniversary summit session Thursday, Machimura urged fellow member states to work on reforming the U.N. by the end of the current General Assembly session in September 2006.

“I believe that Japan’s path of striving for international peace speaks for itself and should serve as the basis for a larger role for Japan as a permanent member of a reformed Security Council,” he said.

“Japan will continue to make its utmost efforts to realize the reform . . . and I call on the member states to reach an early decision in this session of the General Assembly,” he said in his 16-minute speech in English.

Machimura explained Japan’s assistance in peace-building and postconflict situations around the world, including the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip following the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said Japan, as the only victim of nuclear attack, calls on fellow U.N. members to renew their determination to free the world of nuclear arms, and will submit a resolution to the General Assembly presenting a concrete agenda to strengthen the disarmament and nonproliferation regime.

Japan also intends to increase its official development assistance to poor countries by $10 billion in the next five years to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by U.N. leaders in 2000, he said.

The Millennium Goals involve eight targets, including halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and providing universal primary education, all aimed at being achieved by 2015 to help the world’s poorest populations.

Machimura said the management and administration of U.N. systems should be “transparent and accountable” to member states and their citizens and called for a comprehensive review of member states’ budget contributions.

“Japan will make its utmost efforts to ensure that the status and responsibilities of a U.N. member state are duly taken into account in its scale of assessment,” he said, hinting that certain permanent Security Council members seem to have more voice compared with their share of financial contributions.

On North Korea, he said Japan is committed to “a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue through the six-party talks and strongly hopes the DPRK will accept the prompt and verifiable dismantlement of all its nuclear weapons and nuclear programs at the current round of the talks in Beijing.”

The DPRK, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is the official name for North Korea.

Machimura reiterated Tokyo’s position of seeking to resolve the nuclear issue, along with issues of the North’s missile development program and its abduction of Japanese, in a comprehensive manner.

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